On March 11, the World Health Organization announced that the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, was officially characterized as a pandemic. The United States, as well as many countries around the world, continued to see a rise in the rate of infections, resulting in President Donald Trump issuing a national emergency.
Formally declaring an emergency opens doors to help curb the current crisis. Specifically, Trump declared an emergency under two acts: the Stafford Act and the National Emergencies Act. The former is typically invoked for major disasters and allows the federal government to offer assistance to the state affected, according to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. The latter allows the Department of Health and Human Services to alter or modify regulations for programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which can bring about changes in the wider medical system.
“The spread of COVID-19 within our Nation’s communities threatens to strain our Nation’s healthcare systems,” Trump said in his proclamation declaring the national emergency. “It is incumbent on hospitals and medical facilities throughout the country to assess their preparedness posture and be prepared to surge capacity and capability. Additional measures, however, are needed to successfully contain and combat the virus in the United States.”
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which was first detected in the Wuhan, Hubei Province, People’s Republic of China in December of last year. Its symptoms cause respiratory illness, which can seem flu-like with a fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, and fatigue. The reason this virus has quickly become a pandemic is because of the ease with which it can spread to others and how it can be lethal to the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions.
In Georgia, most cases are being seen in the Atlanta area, but there are still quite a few in the southern part of the state. Some hospitals, like TIFT REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER in Tifton, have had to report deaths due to the virus.
“This announcement serves a sobering reminder of the need for our community to follow the recommended guidelines for reducing the spread of COVID-19,” Christopher K. Dorman, President and CEO of Southwell, said. “Stay at home as much as possible. Practice good hand washing. Avoid crowds and keep 6 feet of distance from other people when in public. Avoid touching your face. Practicing these habits is the best protection against COVID-19.”
Hospitals and their doctors and nurses all over the world are continuing to work to help curb the rising rates of infection, at a great health risk to themselves in the process. Prominent hospitals are staying open and functional to provide healthcare to their surrounding communities in South Georgia.
CRISP REGIONAL President and CEO Steven Gautney applauds his staff and fellow healthcare practitioners around the world for aiding in this crisis.
“Each day our healthcare workers are putting their lives on the line because they chose to help and care for others even in the worst of times,” he said. “They are our real-life superheroes. To the Crisp Regional team and all healthcare workers across the world, we support you and appreciate the courage you are showing during these challenging times. The safety and protection of our healthcare workers and their families are paramount, and we thank them for everything they are doing to protect our patients and community.”
ARCHBOLD MEDICAL CENTER President and CEO Perry Mustian shares similar sentiments. He shared some examples of what they are doing to keep day-today operations as normal as possible.
“We applaud (our staff) for providing outstanding care and compassion to all patients who enter our healthcare system,” Mustian said. “We have shifted from preparedness to response mode with a core group of senior leaders working in a command center handling the day-to-day logistics of our response to COVD-19. The decisions we make are designed to both support you and help protect you during this situation. I am confident that Archbold is ready and prepared to manage through this difficult time, and I want you to know that we’re here for you. We thank you, and God bless the work you do every day.”
COLQUITT REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER has also been working tirelessly during the pandemic. President and CEO Jim Matney praised the staff, and the community, for the risk, time, and effort they have put forth during this crisis.
“The support and outpouring of love that has been shown to Colquitt Regional is nothing short of humbling,” he said. “Our community has rallied together to donate food, make masks, and pray for our staff members. We have also received numerous handwritten cards, pictures, and messages of encouragement. These have provided a bright spot in the darkness. We are here to serve our community, and we are grateful that they have served us so well during these trying times.”
Dr. Howard Melton, medical director at Sterling Bariatrics at Colquitt Regional, said everyone — nurses, housekeeping personnel, maintenance technicians, administration, and support staff — has had all hands on deck during this crisis. “This is a monumental effort,” he said. “We have counseled bariatric patients in particular to adhere to strict social distancing as recommended by the CDC. We encourage everyone to adhere to the CDC guidelines including social distancing and to adhere to the stay at home order as issued by our governor. We are just
now starting to see a ‘flattening of the curve’ in New York, which we expect will happen here in the Southwest Georgia area too in the very near future. “The coronavirus pandemic has affected everything we do and how we interact with patients on the most basic level. We have really reduced patient interaction here over the last couple of weeks and expect that to continue over the next month or so. This is not only to protect the patients, but also to protect our staff and the staff in the hospital.”
Everyone has a part to play in this pandemic. Remember to wash your hands, practice social distancing, and give appreciation to those who are on the front lines to reduce the spread of COVID-19.